Monday, March 31, 2008

Review: Judenhass

The folks at Bargain Comics loaned me a copy of Dave Sim's Judenhass a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit, I avoided it for awhile. Judenhass is the German term for Jew hatred, and Sim's 48-page narrative takes an unflinching look at the historic hatred and persecution of the Jews that made Auschwitz sadly inevitable. Sim's re-rendering of photographs of the skeletal victims of Nazi atrocities are depicted in stark black and white, while the text is primarily composed of quotations degrading to Jews from many surprising social and political figures regarding the Holocaust. More than just redrawing the gaping, suffering faces, Sim knits them into a tapestry of misery, overlaid with the smug, uncaring faces of the fine and proper gentry and their quotes of indifference.

I can't say I "enjoyed" Judenhass, but it is assuredly thoughtful, disturbing look at the basest side of the human heart, and a powerful, recommended read.


Jeff O'Connor said...

As a gay man who grew up in Germany, visited Dachau with my surrogate grandparents who were holocaust survivors, and whose partner is a Palestinian, I'm glad to see that the Holocaust is being made accessible to people through contemporary mediums like graphic novels and that its horror and brutality isn't being watered-down or glossed-over.

At the same time, I am deeply saddened and troubled that equally appalling acts of butchery and oppression go on around the world on a daily basis without generating anywhere near the interest or resolve to never allow it to happen again that a near-genocide that ended more than a half a century ago does.

It's time to stop treating the Holocaust as a one-time,unique incident and recognize it for being symptomatic of a much larger, more pervasive, and ongoing problem.

I wish there were more publications like this taking-up the the Rwandan Genocide, the plight of the Palestinian people, the occupation of Tibet, Darfur, Abu Ghraib, etc.

If we all were as moved by the tragedies that are happening around us in the present as we are by those in the past, there would be fewer of them altogether.

Jeff Seiler said...

I was fortunate to be given "all access" to Judenhass by Dave Sim, including being the organizer of the display of the original artwork at SPACE, in Columbus, Ohio, the first weekend in March.

I can tell you that everyone who saw the artwork was very visibly moved by it, as well as the persons who read the reading copies of the comic that were available. As powerful as the artwork is in the comic, it is doubly so to see the original art. Sim does not intend to display the artwork anywhere else unless specifically requested to do so by a Holocaust museum. So, if you should happen to hear of such an exhibit, you really should try to go.

I would also urge all who read the comic and like it to show it to your local public and high school libraries. It is Sim's fervent hope that Judenhass will make it into the permanent holdings of such libraries.


Jeff Seiler